Summary: Answers to some questions on prayer.
Questions on Prayer I
A few weeks ago, I received an email with a question about prayer. The question was so heart-felt and sincere, that I felt it necessary to share that question and its answer with you. In fact, this week and next, we will be looking at several “questions about prayer.” I would like to invite you to submit your questions concerning prayer…you can do so by writing out your questions on the tear off portion of the bulletin and dropping it in the offering basket at the conclusion of our service.
Prayer sermons always leave people feeling as if they are failures. But prayer is not given to us to be a burden or a duty to fulfill, but to be a joy and a power without limit. It is given to us so that we can find “Grace in to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4:16). Prayer is more meant to be an invitation than a command to be obeyed.
1. As I was preparing for this message, I looked at my own life, and my own struggles with prayer.
a. I noticed I had more books on prayer than any other subject in my bookcase.
b. I know a lot about prayer, both from my studies as well as from my experience.
c. And yet, it seems that even for me, it is easier to talk about prayer than to actually pray.
d. From time to time I try to evaluate my prayer-life, and the biggest shortcoming I find is that I rarely dedicate the long, uninterrupted times to God. I find most of my praying is “on the run” and just before I need to call upon God’s help.
i. It is like I prefer to “snack” on prayer than to go to a sit down dinner because of the time and effort it takes.
ii. I know that God uses my snack prayers, and that He hears them. But I also understand that relying on snacks for nutrition will leave me less than healthy.
iii. This leads us to the first question:
2. Why should we bother to pray (for a change) if God already knows what is going to happen. If he has a plan for us and knows everything before we do, then why pray to change it?
a. This question perplexes more of us than we realize.
b. The wrong answer to this question will lead us to Prayer Paralysis. – prayer paralysis is when a barrier forms in our lives either from a mistaken belief or an attitude, resulting in a lack of sincere and concentrated prayer.
i. I believe that the wrong answers to the fundamental questions about prayer can paralyze us spiritually. False beliefs and half-truths can rob from us from the power and life that God desires to give us, through prayer.
ii. I don’t believe that the root cause to prayerlessness is laziness.
1. I don’t believe it is always selfishness.
2. Some people get down on themselves and say, “I am lazy, I don’t pray as I ought.”
3. But beating yourself up won’t bring you to break prayer paralysis.
c. Prayer Paralysis:
i. What is paralysis? It is the “inability” to move a part of your body because of some sort of damage to the connection between that part of the body and the mind.
1. Usually it occurs in the spinal cord.
2. If you have ever seen someone who has been paralyzed for very long, their unusable limbs become withered, the muscles become atrophied, and the limb becomes a lifeless looking appendage.
ii. What would prayer paralysis be like?
1. When a mind has believed a lie about God, it is as if the connection between them and God is damaged.
2. Since prayer is the communication link between us and God, prayer paralysis actually leads to spiritual life paralysis.
3. Our souls become spiritually atrophied because we have cut off the life from our souls to God.
4. The spinal cord of connection is gone.
5. We don’t feel anymore. We lose our ability to act. We wither. We become useless. And we don’t pray.
d. So, what are some of the lies we believe?
i. At the root of most prayerlessness is the mistaken belief my prayer won’t make a big difference in what happens.
ii. (move to another spot) At other times, we are paralyzed by the fear that either God won’t give me what I want.
1. It is as if we are so afraid to hear the “NO” word that we simply give up praying.
iii. I also think that one of the barriers to prayer is the fear “of insignificance”
1. I am reminded of the California wildfires and the thousands upon thousands of homes that were destroyed.